As many as 440,000 people left their jobs in adult social care last year, with the turnover rate in the sector estimated at 30.8%.
Most of the workers who left remained in the sector with around 66% of jobs recruited from other roles in adult social care.
The findings, which have been released in the Skills for Care The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England report, said 7.8% of roles were vacant in 2018, equal to approximately 122,000 vacancies at any time.
Around a quarter of the 1.49 million workforce (24%) were on a zero-hours contract (370,000 jobs). Domiciliary care services had the highest proportion of workers employed on such contracts (43%), especially among care workers (58%).
Workers were more likely to leave if employed on zero-hours contracts (31.8% turnover rate) compared to if they were not (24.9%).
The report found the average number of sickness days was 4.8, which equated to approximately 6.9 million days lost to illness in the past 12 months.
The document said: ‘On average, sickness rates were higher within the local authority (10.4 days for all job roles and 12.3 for care workers) than the independent sector providers (4.7 days for all job roles and 5.0 for care workers). This may reflect differing terms and conditions.’
Skills for Care interim chief executive officer Andy Tilden said: ‘This report using solid data supplied by employers shows that adult social care must now be factored into workforce and economic planning at a national, regional and local level.
‘We know the outstanding work our workforce does in our communities day in, day out, but their £40.5bn contribution means our growing sector is now a key driving force in the national economy.
‘If we continue to deliver social care in the same way it is projected we may need to fill another 580,000 job roles by 2035 and that means our sector is only going to get bigger as demand for high quality care services continues to increase.’
Since the introduction of the mandatory National Living Wage (NLW) care worker pay in the independent sector has increased at a higher rate than previous years.
Care workers in the bottom 10% of the pay distribution benefitted the most from the introduction of the NLW (an increase of 9.4%) whereas the pay for the top 40% of earners increased at a slower rate.
This week, at the Conservative Party conference, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid announced plans to increase the NLW, lowering the age threshold for those who qualify for the rate from 25 to 21. The current rate for over 25s is £8.21.
Labour has also pledged to raise the wage to £10 an hour in 2020, including all workers under the age of 18.